Today is the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. Reaching out to others is something that can be so easily lost in today's society. We are busy. We have jobs. We have children. We often live far from loved ones.
But Mary showed us the meaning of sacrificial giving. She had just learned she was pregnant with the Messiah and the first thing she thinks of, is her pregnant, aging cousin, Elizabeth. She stays with Elizabeth until Elizabeth gives birth to John the Baptist and then returns to her hometown, obviously pregnant with her out-of-wedlock child. She then went to face her family and her espoused with the Truth.
Today, Mary's concern for others can be seen in The Little Sisters of the Poor, who take an "extra" vow of hospitality, along with the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. If hospitality can be lived out in a life of vowed poverty, how much more can it be lived by those of us who have been blessed with abundance?
Monastic Hospitality in general has been used, through the ages, as a way of reaching out to weary travelers and touching them with the love of Christ. I truly think we need this now, more than ever. For the "common man" to be able to taste a bit of the monastic life is a great gift that vowed religious can give to the world.
Today, this can be done as often, through the internet, as it is in person. The Monastery of Christ in the Desert is a great example of this. By visiting their website, you can access homilies, chants, information about angels, Saint Benedict, Opus Dei, and monastic spirituality. You can purchase incense, sandals, metals, mugs, CDs, prayer ropes, rosaries and even lip balm!
For a little peak into the everyday life inside a monastery, take a look at this YouTube film on the subject.